Bulgaria to extend coronavirus state of emergency until mid-July

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FILE PHOTO: Workers disinfect an escalator in Serdika metro station in Sofia

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria will extend a state of emergency declared in response to the coronavirus outbreak until July 15 after another jump in new registered cases, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev said on Wednesday.

Bulgaria began to relax restrictions to stop the spread of the virus earlier this month, but last week it reported 606 new COVID-19 cases, its highest weekly rise since the epidemic.

Some 130 new cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total to date to 4,114, with 208 deaths. The latest jump prompted Ananiev's decision to reimpose the mask requirement at all indoor public venues, including trains and buses.

"We have an increase of the intensity of the epidemic and an increase of coronavirus spread," Ananiev told a government meeting.

He said the average daily number of people infected with coronavirus from June 10 to June 24 jumped more than three times (from 26 to 84 cases in a single day) compared with the previous two-week period.

Ananiev said the Black Sea state would not impose new measures or bring back tougher restrictions, but would step up controls on social distancing, obligatory face masks indoors and will keep travel bans for most countries outside the EU.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said during the meeting that unless social distancing among fans at soccer matches improved, he would order games to be played behind closed doors.

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov and Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)